Saturday, December 19, 2009

When The Lights Go Out & You Have No Heat

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On Sunday morning, a few years ago, the power went out. I lay in bed with my electric blanket that slowly got cooler and wondered how long this was going to last. It was cold outside and I knew we didn't have long before we were going to be cold too. We all put socks and sweatshirts on and thought of ways to keep busy. I knew we had warm sleeping bags (that I could pull out, but are for Christmas) if we got really cold, but we really had no other heat source. This really got me thinking of what it would be like if this had been an earthquake and we didn't have power for days or weeks. I do have a wood fireplace, but we don't have any wood stocked for it. Plus if the chimney had collapsed during an earthquake then what would we do? I do have a Sun Oven so we have a way to cook, so my focus is going to be a way to heat my home and keep my family warm.

What to do when your power goes out: (from

  1. First, check to see if your neighbors have power. If you are the only home without electricity, check the main fuse in your electric service panel or fuse box to see if the main circuit breaker has been tripped or if a fuse has blown. If you don’t know how to check, consult a qualified electrician. If your neighbors do not have electricity either, then you know there has been a power outage in your area.
  2. Report your power outage to your local utility company so they know which area has lost power, especially in a storm. Only call once to report your outage.
  3. Turn off all major non-essential appliances such as your electric range and washer/dryer. Turn off the majority of your light switches, but leave a few on so you know when the power has been restored. This reduces the electrical demand once the power has been restored.
  4. Unplug sensitive electronic equipment such as your TV, personal computer, VCR and microwave. This will reduce chance of damage caused by electric surges.
  5. Try to keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed to conserve the cold inside. You never know how long the power will be out, and you don’t want your food to spoil.
  6. Open the window shades to allow more light to come in.
Take the time to prepare for a power outage and to gain the knowledge needed to respond safely and effectively during the emergency. A few simple preparations can greatly reduce the inconveniences caused by a power outage.

I also strongly suggest printing out this handout HERE and keep it as a reference to living without light. I will quickly list the ideas Debbie Kent suggests if the lights go out.

-List what your family's needs

-What will you cook and how?

-How will you heat your home?

-What lighting will you use? (all main rooms of your house should have some form of emergency lighting, like a flashlight or crank flashlight)

Debbie then lists in detail; lighting sources, kinds of flashlights, cooking, heating, power sources, batteries, and fire starters.

If you need some last minute Christmas presents, crank flashlights, or headlamps would make a great gift. Even for children, they would love having a headlamp to play with or light sticks for their 72-hour kits.

I found a store called Recreation Outlet on 3160 S. State St. in Salt Lake City, Utah (801-484-4800) that has a lot of emergency preparedness items for a lot less. They have hand warmer packs, headlamps, portable stoves , crank flashlight/radios , full 72-hour kits in a backpack , mylar emergency blankets , coats, boots, clothing, sleeping bags, snow shoes,etc. I could spend all day in that store. :)

I want you to think of your family and what would be an essential to have if we had no power for 1 week. I would be miserable without heat and if my children were suffering because of the cold I would be really stressed. I think a propane heater may be on my birthday list and finding a way to store cut wood for our fireplace is another idea. What are your goals for warmth this winter?

Self-Reliant Goals for December:
Long Term Goals:
Flour 75lbs PP-Sams club has 25lb bags for $10
Sugar 60lbs PP

3-Month Supply Goals:
Substitute a canned version of a fresh ingredients in one of your recipes sometime this month. Even if you love to use fresh ingredients, you will need a canned version if there was no electricity or major disaster.

72-Hour Kit goal:Search out little Hotties body warmers. The packs of body warmers will definitely be needed if we encounter a disaster in the dead of winter. They even have an adhesive product to stay where you want it. Make sure that everyone in your family has gloves or mittens. Trying to find a matching pair in the dark and in a hurry could potentially be impossible :) The body warmers should also be kept in your car kits as well.  Mylar blankets are a great thing to have in a car kit and 72-hour kit. Make sure to have 1 per person.

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